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Monday, 19 September 2011

Charlotte Horridge

Many members will know that my mother was Promoted to Glory earlier this year, shortly before her 90th birthday. She loved the Army and its rich heritage, and was a tireless worker to further the Kingdom. Charlotte was born in Ilfracombe, North Devon and as a youngster, although being bought up in the local orphanage, attended the local Corps. Ilfracombe had a flourishing band and one of mother’s earliest Salvation Army memories was in the Hall on a Sunday evening, mid-way through the band playing a march, hearing the maroons going off summoning the lifeboat crew. Several members of the Band put down their instruments and ran out of the Hall to the lifeboat station to man the lifeboat. This happened on a number of occasions. She also remembered standing on ‘Preacher’s Rock’, which is just on one side of the beach, giving her testimony, as well as ‘singing to the fishes’ as the Young People called it. There was a favourite tourist walk between the harbour and a central beach which involved paths around a large hill (called Capstone). There were benches and shelters along the way and many people also sat on the grass looking out towards Wales. The Salvation Army held open airs along there but sometimes few people were in evidence, hence, ‘singing to the fishes’.

An active member of the Corps, Charlotte moved to Exeter aged 15, first as a domestic servant and then employed at the University. She soldiered at Exeter Corps. When World War Two was declared in 1939, she became a Candidate Helper with the Salvation Army’s Red Shield and served on military bases at St. Austell, Falmouth, Halton and Andover. It was at RAF Halton that she learnt to drive the mobile canteens so beloved of ground and air-crew although upon leaving Halton, she never drove again. During the latter stages of the war Charlotte returned to Ilfracombe where she was Sunbeam Leader in the still thriving Corps. She then entered the William Booth Memorial Training College as a cadet in the 1945/46 ‘Challenger’s’ Session. From there she was commissioned with appointments in the East Anglia Division. Her Corps included Sudbury, Linton and West Wycombe, Braintree, Mashbury and Norton. Even in those days life was hard for Salvationist officers in the front line. As second in charge in her early officership, mother would cycle miles between Corps to hold meetings, lodging in very basic accommodation when the Army had no quarters and sometimes going hungry because the Corps did not have enough money left after paying its dues to Headquarters and its bills. She remembered being grateful for the occasional fish and chip suppers left on the doorstep by fiends. It is perhaps hard to think today that this self-sacrificing vocational sense of duty was barely fifty years ago but such dedication reflected how the Army was built and thrived.

During the mid-1950’s she resigned her commission owing to ill-health and moved to Cambridge where she worked for Marks and Spencer. While on holiday in Ilfracombe she met Kenneth who was an engineer for the Cementation Company. He specialized in water engineering/damns. Ken had also been brought up in an orphanage (in Rochdale). They married on 2nd April 1955 at the Salvation Army’s Corps in Cambridge. In 1959 their son Glenn was born. They remained in Cambridge although the family attended the Histon Corps which was easier to get to. Charlotte devoted her time to the home and to voluntary work. Ken worked away as a civil engineer but later joined the Post Office. Upon Ken’s retirement they fulfilled their long-cherished dream to return to Ilfracombe.

They worshiped at Ilfracombe Corps and in March 1992 Charlotte (then 71) was commissioned as a member of the Band in which she played the tenor horn. She took on various roles within the Corps and in voluntary work throughout the town. Sadly Ken died 12 years ago but is fondly remembered for his many activities in the Town. Charlotte had, and has passed on to Glenn, a deep interest in all aspects of the history of the Army with the result that part of her home was given up as a museum. Large numbers of visitors have been blessed whilst viewing the treasures of yesteryear and Charlotte was always ready to tell the Army’s story to those she met. In 1989 she produced a book giving a fascinating account of the Army’s history through pictures from her collection.

Although increasingly feeling her age and after a couple of hospital stays, mother fulfilled her wish of staying in her own home. She died on her own bed whilst have a lay down after lunch. As General Eva Burrows, one of our many visitors, wrote upon hearing the news of mother’s passing: “She has lived a full and glorious life of service to her Master and Lord, and it was her time to go to her heavenly reward.” A service of thanksgiving for Charlotte’s life was arranged, much thanks to my wife Christine, at the Salvation Army Hall in Ilfracombe and started with one of her favourite poems, Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar:

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar

Thank you all for your kind words and prayers.

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